After all the blood, sweat, and tears he put into making his album, imagine J. Cole’s surprise when a fan handed him a copy of the physical CD before he had even seen it. The Roc Nation rapper was performing in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday night when someone in the audience held up a copy of his debut Cole World: The Sideline Story, nearly a week before its release. Apparently some Target stores had prematurely put the album on shelves.
Despite the initial shock, Cole soaked up the surreal moment. “I don’t know how the fuck they got this shit, but this shit is real my ni**a,” he told the crowd as he held up the CD. “This shit is incredible for me to see right now. This a ni**a album. I don’t even have this, ni**a. I don’t know how you got this.”
The album, which officially arrives Tuesday, is already receiving positive reviews. “Bigger names in hip-hop have released albums this year, but few trump this debut,” writes Entertainment Weekly.